It is, at best, unfortoutious for the Blues that the Dallas Stars are leading the Central Division. The Stars have given the Blues fits, especially at Scottrade. Winless in their last four home games against Dallas, the Blues are ten points back of them in the Central.
The Stars have the league's best offense, scoring more than three and a half goals per game. Over a quarter of the time on the power play, they score. The Blues have been anemic recently in the goal department, only scoring more than two goals in four out of their last ten games. Their defense hasn't been much better, with blunders by Jay Bouwmeester and Petteri Lindbohm costing the team Thursday night.
Factor in the team's slow first period starts and now a new trend of forgetting to show up for the second period, and you have a recipe for disaster. For Ken Hitchcock, it's all about momentum:
"It’s building momentum in the game," Hitchcock said. "Sometimes momentum is early, sometimes it’s late. It’s when you don’t have the momentum, what are you doing to get it back? That’s what we want to do.
"We want to do a better job when we don’t have it, to get it back and not wait for a long rest period in between periods to get it back. Get it back within the frame of the period you’re playing in. It’s about getting the momentum back. The teams that are having success are the teams that are getting that momentum back quickly in the game."
That's nice. That also means somewhere between jack and shit. It's not about momentum, it's about maintaining a high quality of play through three periods of hockey, which is something that the Blues have seemed incapable of doing through the past two and a half seasons. There have been jokes from fans about "oh, this is their period off!" but, like with many things, there's truth in that gallows humor. This is a consistent problem that, despite all sorts of assurances from the coach and players, has yet to be fixed.
Factor in Hitchcock's nonsense about checking and puck possession (sure, getting the puck back is important - how about working on maintaining possession in the first place), and it's starting to become a legitimate concern that he is running out of ideas. Tonight, against his and Doug Armstrong's old team, how about revisiting an old one: play three periods of decent, defensive hockey. Without it, the Blues will be 12 points behind the Stars.